computer with to do notes Have you ever found yourself so overwhelmed you literally didn’t know where to start sorting through your “to-do” list? Been there, done that.

This past week I found myself over my head in tasks that I felt only I could do. As the medical director of a rural health clinic, I have a superb staff that does everything they can possibly do to ease my workload, however, there are things that only I can do. I had recently returned from my first week-long vacation in over three years and found myself digging out of a mountain of paperwork. Couple that with seeing patients and reviewing the records of the APPs I collaborate with, my usual 12-hour days quickly turned into 15-hour days at the office.

As program director of a family medicine residency, I had more “fires” to put out these past two weeks than usual. Last minute cancellations of lecturers during the didactic programs left me scrambling to fill the required hours (thank goodness for presentations I had previously written and saved to a flash drive!) Not one, but TWO preceptors leaving the organization abruptly found me taking one student with me on rotation and trying to relocate an orphaned student.

When it seemed liked things were calming just enough for me to catch up on the tasks that were put on the back burner during the previous two weeks and prepare for a highly anticipated trip to Harrisburg for one of my favorite events, the POMA Board of Trustees meeting, I sat down and realized I had FOUR LISTS of things that needed to be done.

My lists aren’t your typical lists. I use a legal pad divided into sections pertaining to clinical work, GME work, household work, and personal-family obligations. As I tried to merge the four lists into a single blueprint for the two days before I left town, I found myself scattered. I decided to sleep on it and wake the next morning (at what had become my usual 4:45 am alarm) and regroup. I prayed that evening for direction as to how to proceed.

I realized that it was November 1st, the Feast of All Saints on the Catholic liturgical calendar. I went to my GME office, put in an hour and decided to go to 7 am mass. I then went to the dentist for an 8 am scheduled repair of a tooth that developed a deep crack (from clenching), then returned to my office to prepare for a series of seven employee meeting presentations I was slated to give before my 6 pm faculty meeting I was hosting that evening. As I was gathering my papers for the first employee meeting, my phone rang.

“Marla, Dad’s gone” resonated from my sister-in-law Kelly’s cracking voice. I responded, “Kelly, this is Lisa. Has Dad died?” She could barely tell me yes and that he was at home with two of my four brothers there with him. She wasn’t sure if she was dialing me or my sister nurse Marla. I told her that I would take care of calling the rest of our army of eight siblings. I called the hospital, told Marla I would be picking her up in the next three minutes and we needed to get to Dad’s house. As we drove the seven miles to the family homestead, calling our two sisters and two other brothers en route, I realized what I would be doing for the next couple of days. I was given my direction.

Suddenly, the employee meetings, faculty meeting, student rotations, re-written policies, record reviews, and board meetings fell lower on the “to-do” list. Now was time to meet with the funeral director, plan Dad’s mass of Christian burial, write his obituary, clean the family home and prepare for the events of the next several days. Times like this help put life in perspective.

As my family members look to each other for support and consolation, as we cry, laugh, joke, tease and remember why we are so close, as we make those hard decisions and not-so-difficult choices, I have to ask myself not only HOW am I DOing, but WHAT am I DOing? Nothing is more important than allowing yourself the chance to breathe. The list will have to wait. It will all be there in a couple days.
Share this post:

Comments on "Regroup"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment